By Rev. Deb Dysert
One of the characteristics of a child between ages 2-4 is that their whole world is about them. Everything revolves around them and they see everything through that set of lenses. I would like to think I have long since grown past that stage of development, but have I? Have you?
Answer these questions:
When you are in hurry and driving down the road, how comfortable are you when someone cuts in front of you, or, should they just get out of your way?
What did you think (or do) the last time you were walking someplace and saw something on the floor or a spill, and you were not responsible for it?
What thoughts run through your head when you are waiting for your drive up window turn and the car in front of you is taking forever?
What did you do the last time you saw someone who looked like they might be able to use an extra hand?
I think that, for the most part, we as a people are so wrapped up in our fast-paced lives, that we are functioning in a very Me-centric way. We concentrate so much on keeping ahead of our own lives and trying to stay on top of our game, that we don’t have (or take) time for other folks and simple kindnesses.
All the faith traditions I know teach about how we interact with others. As clergy, I teach a lot about how we are supposed to be in this world and touch the lives of others through our actions. Do we? Do you? I know that I have to be very intentional in my own life about climbing out of my own “stuff” and remembering that there are other people around me all the time.
Sometimes the most valuable time I can spend is not in getting my “most important task in front of me” accomplished, but rather to remember that the people around me just might be the “most important task around me.” I think about this: When the time comes and I am being held accountable for my actions on this earth, what will the questions and comments about my life be? Will they be, “wow, you did a great job balancing your checkbook?” or will they be, “wow, I loved the way you stopped and smiled at the people you were passing in the halls.”
This holiday season, I would like to “push the envelope” with all of us. Instead of being so consumed with the decorations, shopping, cookie baking and parties, let’s shift our focus. Let us all commit to doing acts of kindness in the world around us. They don’t have to be big, grandiose kinds of things that draw a lot of attention. They might be things like picking up the stack of things that fell, or cleaning up the mess someone else left in the microwave in the breakroom, or stopping and helping that person struggling to walk to their car with their packages. It might be asking that elderly neighbor if they need something when you are running to the bank or the post office or Kmart. It might be helping that co-worker that is struggling on the job with a project and not taking any credit for it yourself. It might even be determining that it is time to be more environmentally responsible and start recycling (I just recently made that commitment and it takes some getting used to).
There are so many things that we could do to leave a positive imprint on the world around us. I know this, when I am out and about, whether I am in the workplace or the shopping mall, I would much rather be surrounded by people that are not as Me-centric, people that stop and smile, might exchange a kind hello, or even offer to lend a hand if I am struggling, rather than to pass someone who is not even aware that I am standing there, or worse, acting as if I am not.
It only takes 2% of the population, who has a vision and is willing to act on it, to change the culture of the world around them. That means in a group of 50 people it only takes one person, to change the culture of the people around them. That is something to consider, we can individually make a positive difference! Can we commit to being part of that 2 percent to change the culture of the Detroit area? We are preparing for the Creating Change Conference that is going to happen here in Detroit. During this holiday season we could begin to create change just by being kinder to those around us. Those are the gifts that last and the gifts that really count in this world. Have a happy and healthy holiday season.